What It’s About: Belle (Josette Day) asks her father (Marcel Andre), traveling on business, to bring her a rose as a present. When he takes one from the supernatural abode of the Beast (Jean Marais), the Beast gives him two options: pay with his life, or with the life of one of his daughters. Belle feels responsible and takes her father’s place, only to discover that the Beast does not want to kill her, but to marry her. The Beast will come to her every night and ask her and Belle vows to refuse…but is there more to the Beast than his hideous (or really, adorable) cat-like appearance?
Why Watch it Today?: Poet, novelist, painter, playwright, set designer, actor, and director of today’s film Jean Cocteau died 50 years ago today. Cocteau directed a small number of films in total, but they were highly influential and are beautiful to watch. Cocteau’s telling of this well know fairy tale is haunting, from the somewhat disturbing servants in the Beast’s castle (hands jutting out from walls to hold lights, for example) to the Beast’s fantastic makeup, to the amazing use of light and shadow. The tale benefits from Cocteau’s decision to leave the sharp edges of the original tale in.